“IS mayonnaise an instrument?” So asks Patrick the Starfish in a memorable episode of TV cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.
And I felt as much of a musical dunce when I ventured along to the Civic Theatre to help create a new Rotherham anthem.
The London-based Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have been challenged to put together a song to be played during the UEFA Women’s Euros in the summer and offered an open invitation to the public to drop in to the Civic and play.
I decided to go along — despite having no music ability or talent whatsoever.
I thought I could make some noise. It can’t be that hard, right?
Wrong — I could barely make any.
By the time I got there, the team, joined by a couple of curious residents who had dropped in, already looked to be on the same page.
Picture a man, standing 6ft 4ins, not knowing what he’s doing, holding a saxhorn and joining in.
Did I make any noise? I wish I could tell you I did, but the only thing I could present was my saliva spreading in the ether while I was trying to blow the instrument as hard as I could.
Silence fell on the auditorium — the group was shocked, some even left the theatre, having seen enough.
OK, that didn’t actually happen.
Instead, the musicians were really helpful and tried to teach me how to do it properly and make some actual noise — not a note, a noise, but I figured that was a good start.
Satisfied with my saxhorn work, I retired on the spot and turned to the glockenspiel and the vibraphone, two of the most impressive percussion instruments.
With the help of Rupert from the musical group, I could finally play my favourite childhood song — so easy it only took 27 years for me to play it accurately once. It was worth the wait.
Rupert said something about music making people smile, and was 100 per cent right.
I don’t think I helped one bit with the anthem of Rotherham but playing on that vibraphone did make my day.
Your chance to contribute comes on May 11 when the band is back in town for another workshop at the Civic.
You’ll be in good hands, and while you’re learning something new and exciting, you can help your town to have an anthem for the ages.
Mayonnaise is, in fact, not an instrument but you can choose from dozens of real ones. It’s totally up to you, there’s no wrong or mistake.
As I was trying, the group was practising really hard, and the anthem is coming together.
“It’s a catchy one; something the people of Rotherham will love and sing with pride.
The only thing that is missing is you.
‘People want something to inspire’
FINDING a local voice is vital to the success of the Euros anthem project, according to Rotherham Council’s commercial manager.
Rachel Stothard, who was among those at the Civic workshop, said: “The idea is to engage different audiences to football, and show the transition from football to arts and heritage.
“We’d like to get more women and girls to get engaged in football. The aim is to get people more active and I think the tournament is a great catalyst to be able to get them involved.
“There’s also a legacy programme that is part of the tournament so we’re looking at what the tournament means to Rotherham.
“It is going to bring a lot to the town but it is also about us being able to show how proud we are of Rotherham as we’ve got a lot to offer.
“We have a rich cultural scene with our museum and libraries, and we are launching a cultural programme of events in mid-May time.
“I think ‘civic pride’ is going to feature quite a lot on people’s lips in the next few months.”
Rupert Whitehead (34), a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, said the project was “brilliant”, adding: “In a session like this, anyone can come and play.
“The purpose of engaging with the local arts groups is that it’s coming from the people of Rotherham rather than from some musicians from London or the Football Association saying: ‘This is what it should be.’
“We’ve asked what people want an anthem to be and a lot of similar things have come up in different areas.
“People want something to inspire, to gather people together.
“I think music is in everyone, whether the person likes music or not. You can get some great ideas from those who do not play any instrument.
“We’re coming back in May and my message would be: ‘Please come along’.”
One drop-in player from Rotherham, who introduced himself as David, said:
“I saw the advert online saying they were looking for people to join and we just turned up and started playing.
“This group is so welcoming and talented in bringing people in and making them feel at ease. We’ve had a masterclass today.
“They are quality musicians, and it is a fantastic opportunity to be here and play with them.”